It is disturbing for me to note this week that political stagecraft, posturing, and sheer gall are not restricted to male politicians in Toledo and Lucas County. For just when I had completed my initial work into a serious academic comparative study of politicians, lunacy, and grandstanding; along comes Sue Frederick to ruin years, OK months, alright days ... OK, a couple of hours of serious scientific research.
Now for those of you who have not heard the story (and there might be a few of you outside of the Toledo / Northwest Ohio area), Sue Frederick is the "Acting" Commissioner of Streets, Bridges and Harbors in Toledo. Without getting too technical on this, the title means that she is responsible for the repair of streets and bridges, leaf collection, and snow removal (The City of Toledo website describing her position says nothing about harbors, in spite of the title and the fact that we have harbors serving the Great Lakes. Go figure.) Sue is the "acting" commissioner because the position requires that one filling it needs to be a certified engineer in the State of Ohio, which Ms Frederick is not.
In addition the responsibilities of her office as "Acting" Commissioner, under the Toledo Municipal code, she also has some special powers and carries a badge. Like the Mayor, members of City Council, and a few other select members of city government, she has been granted "special police powers". These powers meant to be used in emergency situations in order to be of assistance to the police and / or the city. Ms. Frederick however, has evidently decided that what they in fact mean is that "there's a new sheriff in town".
According to information released by the city, upon receiving a complaint of a parking violation, our stalwart commissioner "responded". Of course before she responded to an alleged offense, she found time to create a parking ticket form, in which she cited the wrong section of the Municipal Code and left a number of misspellings to her effort. While responding to the original offense, Ms. Frederick was informed that additional offenders were nearby, and not one to overlook an opportunity, she cited them as well. These parking violations, by the way, were for residents parking on gravel driveways or pads on their own property.
Of course it should be noted that these parking tickets are not your everyday parking ticket, a charge that can be appealed in municipal court, but a special version which must be adjudicated by a special hearing officer. Unfortunately, no such hearing office exists in Toledo to review these citations (probably making them invalid), but Ms. Frederick has promised continued enforcement none the less, which will leave residents the option to either pay the ticket or have it sent to a collection agency.
So just to recap here:
We have an "Acting" Commissioner who is not qualified to actually hold the position that she does exercising special powers which she may not be qualified to hold as an "Acting" Commissioner. In exercising this power which she may not actually have, she 'created' her own flawed ticket form, then drove out to residences in Toledo to write tickets to people parking on their own property improperly citing the appropriate Municipal code. Add to this that the code, even if properly cited, did not have the required review process or personnel in place, and that the City Law Director has already stated that the tickets are probably unenforceable.
Called before a hearing at City Council on Monday, our intrepid Commissioner was both belligerent and unrepentant, and challenged a member of Council for interfering with her in performance of her self-assigned duties. A further (and later) response from the city stated that the original tickets, carrying a fine of $25, will be replaced with new ones carrying a fine of $75. (This may be a serious attempt by the city to make up it's $12.5 million deficit, in which case they better get writing.)
Only in Toledo, can such a thing contemplated without the tearing of hair and clothing, and gnashing of teeth. My response instead however, with ADD and warped sense of humor in full bloom, is to recall (and paraphrase) the lyrics from an old Beatles tune:
"She's gotta ticket to write. She's gotta ticket to write... ite ... ite. She got a ticket to write, and she don't care."